I MET A MAN / The Conversion of St. Matthew

st matthew

In the village square, I met a man
much younger than myself.
He asked me for some water,
for he had traveled very far.
I filled a wooden cup to the brim
and handed it to the stranger.

He sat on a stool in the shade
and watched as I counted coins
given in taxes from the townsmen.
I dared not stuff any in my pouch
for I knew he would notice such.
I turned to see if he was still there.

Then I remembered who he was.
My friends had spoken of him and
said he was a man of many wonders—
a holy man some had said, a worker
of miracles and touched by God.
But I knew of no such men on this earth.

then he spoke…

“Are you happy in your work, brother?
Understandably, being reviled by all
for taking their hard earned wages,
must be an unpleasant task.
And yet, someone must do it.
But are you happy?”

I turned sharply to answer this beggar,
but the peace in his eyes offered no harm.
And I noticed the trace of little smile
as he sipped once again from the cup.
“Yes sir, “ I answered,
“Someone must do it. Why not I?”

He arose from the stool…

“Do not take offense my friend,
I did not come here to judge you.”
He moved closer to me and placed
his hand gently on my shoulder.
“I just wondered if you were happy.
That is my only concern for you.”

Now his smile broadened and his
eyes twinkled in a wonderful manner.
And then, in the passing of a moment,
my heart filled with a quiet joy and peace.
“Then why did you come?” I asked.
“To save you.” he answered.

Then he whispered in my ear…

“Come, follow me.”

At that, he turned and walked away.
As I watched, a huge throng of people
gathered closely around him, touching
even the hem of his tunic, calling his name.
Something stirred, deep inside of me.
Without another thought, I left my work,
and tossed every single coin high into the air…

and then I followed him.


© Richard Keith Carlton


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